Fatal Greed

Fall 2006 CSANews Issue 60  |  Posted date : May 30, 2007.Back to list

Fatal Greed is a political thriller that starts with a contamination accident in suburban Toronto and continues with a complex, violent coverup involving murder, money-laundering, terrorists, the Mafia and the intelligence communities of the world. It concludes with an explosive sea battle near Grand Cayman on the morning of 9/11. It reads almost like a prelude to 9/11.

Montreal writer Robert Landori takes us into an underground world of stock market manoeuvring, secreted fortunes and passport fraud, in which the Canadian passport is a special treasure.

Landori writes with the authority of someone who has“been there-done that.” Born in Hungary, he was witness to the German invasion, rescued from starvation by the Red Army, and eventually thrown out of Hungary with the rest of his family in 1947 .

Along the way, Robert learned eight languages and completed his education in accounting at McGill University. He went from being a jazz drummer with Sydney Bechet on the French Riviera, to becoming a business professional – and also an“international man of intrigue.”

Landori was a mergers and acquisitions specialist whose work led to travel throughout South America and the Caribbean for 20 years, mingling with a colourful group of con men, financiers, artists and entertainers. He must have done something to seriously annoy Fidel Castro, because he was Fidel’s involuntary “guest” in solitary confinement for more than two months held by Castro’s notorious G-2. After his release, Landori became a security consultant, and now a first-time novelist

The main character in Fatal Greed is Robert Lonsdale, a worldweary NATO intelligence man. Robert Lonsdale sounds an awful lot like Robert Landori. Lonsdale gets involved in the case because of the sudden deaths of friends by a virulent, inexplicable mutation of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD - mad cow disease).

Plasmalab is a pharmaceutical company, specializing in the manufacture of surgical glue made from bovine blood. The company is co-owned by two partners – chief scientific officer Fred Keller, creator of the revolutionary plasmacol, and CEO Mike Martin, a tenacious businessman.

The two executives find themselves in a moral dilemma after they realize that because of an accident, shipments of under-pasteurized glue had been inadvertently sent around the world for five weeks. This contaminated product had already resulted in the sudden deaths of people from CJD.

CSO Keller feels that their only recourse is to admit the mistake and alert the authorities. After all, this new mutant apparently had the properties to spread like the flu and start a worldwide epidemic of the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. CEO Martin, desperate to save the company and his fortune, maintains that they should keep silent and work quickly to develop a vaccine. Guess which partner gets murdered?

Months later, an inquiry from Canadian authorities concerning Martin’s passport, together with newspaper coverage of the collapse of Plasmalab, arouses the interest of the Belizean consul, an agent of al-Qaida. That organization is quick to realize the potential of this new strain of CJD to become a powerful weapon of mass destruction (of particular interest to Saddam and Iraq).

Landori is very skilful at character development, portraying the passions that motivate the protagonists. For example Selim, the al-Qaida agent, considers what could happen to his Muslim brethren if this fatal substance were dispersed before a vaccine was developed. He realized that his co-religionists “would drop like flies,” but then he shrugged, “to hell with the consequences…they would all become martyrs and enter paradise.”

The philosophy of the fighting Israeli is expressed by Lonsdale’s partner Gal.

“From experience gained in the army and in the Mossad, I know that one can’t get anywhere with radicalized Arab Muslims unless one shows the same disregard for human life and civilized behaviour as the Arabs do.” Does that sound like current Mideast headlines?

Landori paints a fascinating portrait of Martin’s Bermuda banker, Llewellyn Edwards. It’s the story of the deterioration of an expat bureaucrat from walking the edge of integrity to sinking to blackmail and succumbing to“fatal greed.”

Fatal Greed ends on the morning of 9/11. As Lonsdale hears about the people of New York, buried under tons of rubble, he rages against his superiors for arming and financing the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 80s, and for ignoring the warnings of his intelligence colleagues. He ends his rant by wondering why enlightened 21st-century leaders are being sucked into a medieval Holy War. At this point, I think that we’re all wondering about that! This is certainly a very timely novel.

According to the author, a sequel is already in the works.

For you snowbirds go to page 43 of “Fatal Greed” for comments about Canadian snowbirds in Florida.